Unchained Voices & Fine Art Shows
A group of forensic social workers and criminal defense attorneys founded Chained Voices in 2015. Their mission was driven by the power of sharing impressive artwork created by their clients who were convicted of life without the possibility of parole before the age of 18. They believed deeply in the voices, talents, and humanity of the astonishing artists they were lucky enough to call their clients. Thus, Chained Voices was born. The name left supporters and art show attendees with a distinct and overwhelming visual of how incarceration creates and sustains deprivation and isolation. It is an environment that inhibits personal autonomy and connection with the larger community. As such, the name felt like a genuine representation of their clients’ experiences and their perseverance despite an oppressive and harsh environment.
As Chained Voices partnered with the DU Prison Arts Initiative beginning in 2020, the art show grew to share the work of over 150 artists each show, including people of all ages and in many stages of the legal process. As the artists diversified, some supporters and participants have questioned the name Chained Voices. Others have wondered whether Unchained Voices better represents the freedom that comes from artistic expression, even in a place like prison. The Chained Voices Committee and DU PAI have taken this feedback seriously. We agree that Unchained Voices more thoroughly embodies the power of art to unite and heal. Make no mistake, the work to create a just system that sustains connections between those in prison and the larger community is far from done. Nonetheless, we have an opportunity today to update our name and honor the efforts and evolution of our tiny art program, our dedicated volunteers and employees, and most importantly, our incredible artists.
Showcasing Incarcerated Artists Across Colorado and Beyond
In addition to showcasing work created by people who are incarcerated through Unchained Voices, DU PAI develops and maintains a variety of partnerships with galleries and institutions across Colorado. These relationships support incarcerated artists as they create work to be seen by the general public. Each show is an opportunity to engage with people, shared humanity, and artmaking behind the walls through gallery experiences, talkbacks, reflections, and community-based events.
Chained Voices Art Show at Denver Arts & Venue's McNichols Building: June - September 2022
Chained Voices Art Show at DU and Cottonwood Center for the Arts: September 2021
Chained Voices Virtual Art Show: November 2020
Inside Stories at Cottonwood Center for the Arts: March 2020
Artwork pictured: "SCF 2013" by Christopher Allen, incarcerated at Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility.